Don Sweeney has work to do. (Brian Babineau/Boston Bruins)Since the Bruins promoted Don Sweeney to general manager, lots of folks have weighed in with to-do lists. Some have been good and some have been dumbfounding.



The Bruins on Thursday announced the signing of forward Joonas Kemppainen to a one-year, two-way contract.

Kemppainen, 27, was second on the Finnish team in scoring at the IIHF World Championships, finishing with three goals and six assists in eight games.

The Bruins on Thursday announced the signing of forward Joonas Kemppainen to a one-year, two-way contract.

Kemppainen, 27, was second on the Finnish team in scoring at the IIHF World Championships, finishing with three goals and six assists in eight games.

Kemppainen, who stands 6-foot-2, 213-pounds, played for Oulun Karpat of the Finnish Elite League in 2014-15, recording 11 goals, 21 assists and a plus-15 rating in 59 games. He added 10 goals and 14 assists with a plus-14 rating in 19 playoff games.

He has played nine seasons in the Finnish Elite League with three teams, totaling 62 goals, 99 assists and a plus-41 rating in 464 regular-season games.

 

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.

Don Sweeney played 15 seasons for the Bruins. (Dave Sanford/Getty Images)Don Sweeney is Cam Neely’s guy. That can end up being either a good thing or a bad thing for the Bruins. 



Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

How the Bruins proceed with Milan Lucic will be high on the list of things that define the early going of Don Sweeney’€™s tenure as Bruins general manager. Sweeney is well aware.

Lucic, who turns 27 next month, has been a dominant player in seasons past. His numbers have been in decline for years, however, and he carries a $6 million cap hit entering the final year of a contract that allows him to pick 15 teams to which he’€™d accept a trade.

Speaking to WEEI.com Wednesday evening, Sweeney called Lucic a “foundational type player” but noted that the B’€™s will get a feel for Lucic’€™s future contract demands before proceeding. Trading Lucic would shed cap space, but the team might not get the return they’€™d have gotten for him in years past given that he is coming off a season in which he scored just 18 goals.

“The CBA at this point in time, you can’€™t argue with what’€™s in front of us and the challenges it may present,” Sweeney told WEEI.com. “[Lucic] is going into a contract year and free agency’€™s on the other side of it. We’€™re going to have to be out in front and have some early discussions and certainly get a temperature read as to how much he wants to be a part of the Boston Bruins‘€™ future going forward.

“We have to convey a similar thing and make a [decision]. Some of these decisions and conversations aren’€™t going to be easy. They’€™re not, but it was part of me as a player that I appreciated when coaches and people had conversations with you. You may not like all the stuff being said, but you can process it and move past it and understand that it’€™s part of it.”

With the exception of his improvement from a disastrous 2013 season, Lucic’€™s goals per 60 and points per 60 have dropped in each year since a career year in 2010-11 in which he scored 30 goals. Sweeney said he feels Lucic can still be the impact player that he’€™s been in the past.

‘€œHe has a presence about him,’€ Sweeney said. ‘€œIt might not have been his finest year, but there are moments where you realize, ‘€˜Wow. This guy is a unique player.’€™ We’€™re going to have to have discussions along those lines.’€œ

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Cam Neely. (Getty Images)

Cam Neely. (Getty Images)

While Cam Neely defended his relationship with Claude Julien Wednesday, he revealed a bit more about how he got along with the recently fired Peter Chiarelli.

After the Bruins introduced Don Sweeney as the team’€™s next general manager, Neely stressed the importance of communication in the front office, prompting a question as to whether he felt he and Chiarelli communicated as well as they would have liked.

“The communication could have been better,” Neely answered.

Chiarelli was the GM before Neely was president, but Chiarelli’€™s success prevented Neely from picking his own guy until the Bruins missed the playoffs this season.

Given that Sweeney is both a former teammate of Neely’€™s and the general manager of Neely’€™s choosing, the working relationship between he and Neely figures to be better. He claimed that his friendship with Sweeney did not take priority over the qualifications of other candidates.

“I’ve been president of the Bruins since 2010,” Neely said. “I have not hired a friend.”

Neely repeatedly deflected questions about who gets final say on player personnel, but noted he doesn’€™t want to do his general manager’€™s job.

“I’€™ve made it very clear: I’€™m not a GM. I don’€™t want to be a GM,” Neely said. “I want the GM to do the job, but I want to know what’€™s going on. I don’€™t know how much more clear I can be with that. If the GM wants to push and fight and say ‘€˜This is the right thing,’€™ then I’€™ll sit down and listen. I want to have conversations. My door is always open.”

The Bruins fired Chiarelli on April 15. He has since taken over the Oilers as team president and GM. Because he had term on his contract that the Bruins would pay had he not found work elsewhere, the Bruins can seek draft pick compensation from the Oilers. Neely confirmed the Bruins are seeking a pick from the Oilers, which would be a second-round pick in one of the next three drafts. The Oilers get to pick which year they give up the pick, making it unlikely that they’€™ll part with the third pick of the second round in this June’€™s draft.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

While the Bruins now officially have a general manager, the situation with their head coach remains unclear.

While the Bruins now officially have a general manager, the situation with their head coach remains unclear.

Speaking at his introductory press conference, Boston GM Don Sweeney would not confirm whether he intends to retain or fire Claude Julien. The Bruins gave their final two general manager candidates the opportunity to meet with Julien, something Sweeney did earlier this month. Sweeney also spoke to Julien upon being promoted on Wednesday.

Both Sweeney and Julien were at a number of Providence Bruins games down the stretch as well.

“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion,” Sweeney said. “As to where I think things need to change and to what direction we need to change as a group, and also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously as a coach and as a person. It’€™s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in and that we can move the group forward.

“Some of that will involve personnel decisions. Some of that will involve staff member decisions and/or changes. That’€™s to be determined. He’€™s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today. That’€™s for sure.”

Speaking after the press conference, B’€™s president Cam Neely spoke highly of Julien and downplayed the belief that he has wanted to fire Julien at multiple points during his time as team president.

“Let me be clear. I think we have a good coach,” Neely said. “I know it’€™s been reported that we have a problem with our coach. I think over the years I would have liked to see some adjustments, but it wasn’€™t about [seeing] certain coaches available. For me, it was about making sure we were making the right decision with our GM first and then we’€™ll go from there.

Asked whether he felt Julien could change with the organization as it tweaks its approach to winning, Neely was noncommittal.

“He’€™s another smart hockey guy. He knows the game extremely well,” Neely said. “He’€™s had a lot of success. This is where Don is going to make those decisions with Claude as far as the adjustments that he thinks we need to make.

“This comment that I made in 2010 about [how] we can’€™t win games, 0-0, keeps getting played. Claude and I flushed that out in 2010. It’€™s 2015 now.”

Julien has been Boston’s head coach for eight seasons, reaching the postseason for seven consecutive years prior to this season. His 351 wins with the B’s put him 10 wins away from tying Art Ross for the most wins in Bruins history.

The pool of top coaching candidates has thinned, most recently with Mike Babcock‘€™s decision to coach the Leafs on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Milan Lucic‘s future is now in Don Sweeney’s hands. Reached for comment upon the team’s hire of Sweeney, Lucic expressed excitement for the new GM.